#3: THE BEST BOOK OF CONTEMPORARY POETRY YOU PROBABLY HAVEN’T READ. OK, she got the Nobel, so that probably means you’ve read Wislawa Szymborska’s View with a Grain of Sand,and you’ve discovered that this Polish poet’s voice is as inimitable, each piece immediately recognizable as her own, as Emily Dickinson or Dr. Seuss (those comparisons are not chosen at random). You may even have followed the trail of Claire Cavanagh’s excellent translations and hit upon Mysticism for Beginners, Adam Zagajewski’s third collection of poems, and discovered that the wry and tragic voice of postwar Europe is speaking still. But I’m betting you haven’t read THE QUARRY, by Daniel Huws, the Anglo-Welsh poet still completely unknown (as far as I can tell) in the U.S. He published one collection, Noth, in 1972; The Quarry, published by Faber and Faber in 1999, is a selection from Noth with new original work, one beautiful translation from the Welsh, and ending with “Al Poco Giorno,” a rendition of Dante whose deliberate, pensive movement is worthy of Yeats at his best. The Quarry is not in print, which is terrible, but you can buy copies online without having to sell your firstborn.
P.S. 2018: Saddest news possible is that Szymborska passed away in 2012. Best news possible is that in 2015 Houghton Mifflin issued Map, the final and definitive collection of her verse. She remained alive and awake to the very end—the inquiring mind raised to Elysian degree.